“Goodnight. See you tomorrow!”
Ellie waved to her colleagues as she left the pub. It had been nice to hang out with them out of the station, with Danny’s case it had been a while since they’d gone out. She made
her way towards her car while she rummaged through her purse to find her keys. They weren’t there or in her pockets.
She had to go back to her desk. She probably had left them there. Luckily the station was right across the street.
It only took her a couple of minutes to go back there. She was halfway through the office when she realised Hardy’s light was still on. He was growling at his computer.
He seemed to be mad at his computer. Ellie approached his office door.
“You’re supposed to slide the mouse gently not bang it on the desk, sir.”
Hardy jumped in his seat and turned wild eyes towards her.
“Bloody hell, Miller! Don’t sneak up on me like that!”
“What are you still doing here? You look terrible, you should go and get some sleep.”
He glared at her.
“Right back at you, Miller. Thought you’d clocked out. Why are you doing back here?”
“Forgot my car keys. Came to pick them up and then I’m heading home. Come on, get your things. I’m not leaving you here. I’ll drop you off at the Traders’.”
The moment she’d talked about going home, Hardy had turned back to his computer and had started ignoring her to stare angrily at the screen. Ellie let out a frustrated sigh and left him to look for her keys. She was mumbling to herself as she searched her desk.
“Daft sod. Not even listening. You sleep here, see if I care.”
Suddenly her keys were dangling in front of her eyes.
“Is that what you’re looking for?”
Hardy was standing there with the keys in his hands.
“Where did you find them?”
“By the chocolate box in the break room, of course.”
He had a knowing smirk.
She tried to take them from him but he withdrew his hand. And he tutted at her.
“In a minute, Miller. Maybe you can help me with something before you leave.”
“Don’t be a knob! Give me my keys!”
Hardy gave her a puppy look.
For a moment, Ellie was mollified. She had the funny urge to hug him and tell him everything would be alright. She was such a mother hen. But then, she caught a glimpse of her
keys in his hand and any fluffy thought left her mind.
“You’re such a manipulative bastard! Don’t give me this “lost puppy” look while hostaging my keys! Why don’t you tell me what you need like a normal person would do?!
“Hostaging is not a word, Miller.”
“Well, stealing is. Give them back now, sir.”
Hardy handed them out with a scowl.
“I really do need your help, Miller.”
She looked at him expectantly.
“Right. Out with it, then.”
“Do you know how to set up and use this video-call thingy youngsters use these days?
Ellie burst into laughter.
Hardy didn’t look impressed. At all.
She sobered up.
“I think I could do it. We use it at home for the kids to talk with their grandparents. I can set it up now if you want. It only takes a minute to install.”
“That would be great. Thanks, Miller. You’re a star.”
Her dimpled smile blossomed on her face and she went to his office to get to work.
She was already sitting in his chair and doing her magic on his computer by the time he joined her.
“You’re such an old grump. Tom was the one to set it up at home, he was the one to show me how to do it!”
“Oi! You’re rather cheeky for someone who’s only a little younger than me, Miller!”
“Maybe so, but I am up to date with the modern world! There you go. It’s done. Do you want it on your smartphone too?”
Hardy looked puzzled.
“On my smartphone?”
She burst into laughter again.
“Welcome to the 21st century, Hardy. Give it here.”
He handed her his phone. She set up the app and gave it back to him.
“There. It’s all done. Should we give it a try? Use your computer, I’ll be at mine, we’ll do a test run. Have a seat, I’ll show you how to ring me.”
Ellie gave him instruction and left him to go to her desk and turn her computer on. He watched her through his office’s glass window. She was all business-like and still sported a
grin. There was such a lightness to her character, it was astonishing to Hardy. How could she be so bloody happy all the time? Well, maybe not all the time. She did shout at him
on a daily basis. He chuckled quietly.
“Bloody hell! I’ve been calling you for ages and you’re chuckling to yourself! Are you having a psychotic break? Do you have a fever or something?”
Miller had come back into his office and was standing next to him. She put her hand to his forehead.
He swatted it off.
“Don’t be daft, Miller. I was just thinking.”
“And what profound thought might that be?”
Hardy felt his face grow a little hot.
“Oooooh my, you’re blushing! You do have a fever!”
“For god’s sake, Miller, don’t be childish!”
She seemed stricken for a moment and turned serious again.
“Right, sorry, sir.”
Hardy felt bad he’d ruined her fun and asked in a softer tone:
“I’ll try to ring you like you showed me, shall I?”
“Yes. Right. Go ahead.”
He waited for her to be sitting in front of her screen and clicked on the call button.
The next second her face appeared on her screen. She waved.
“So, that’s it really: you ring, the person answers and then you talk. It’s pretty easy, isn’t it?”
“Yes. Thanks, Miller.”
There was a moment of silence.
“It’s a bit weird to talk to you on the computer when I can see you in your office.”
Hardy grinned at her on the screen.
“I have to say I prefer to shout at you through the door.”
Ellie glared in mock outrage.
“You’re such a knob! I’m hanging-up now. Come on, I’ll drop you off.”
They turned-off their computers, gathered their things and went to Miller’s car.
Ellie drove off while Hardy was looking at the darkened streets out through his window.
“I was thinking about you.”
His voice was quiet but Ellie was startled.
“What do you mean?”
“Earlier. When you thought I had a fever. I was thinking about you.”
Ellie’s heart jumped.
“About me? Should I be worried?”
He kept staring out the window.
“You’re so good-hearted, happy all the time. Well, except when you snap at me.”
She was speechless. He went on.
“The world needs more people like you, Miller. I wish I could be as kind and positive as you, sometimes.”
She gaped at him.
He turned to look at her then.
“Although in our line of work, I suppose it’s a bit of a weakness.”
“Wow. For a minute I thought you really did have a psychotic break.”
He looked a little hurt by her comment.
“I take it back. You are not kind, Miller.”
Ellie glanced at him.
“I’m sorry! I wasn’t expecting you to be nice and all. It’s a bit unnerving.”
The initial shock at his words was fading and she understood what he meant.
“Wait. You wonder about my kindness or cheerfulness or whatever you call it. And I wonder about your anger and your, I don’t know, sadness. But what you don’t realise is that
we are just both sides of the same coin. We both care deeply about others. You bury it and shout and snap at people. And I let it all out, I smile and I cry. You see the bad in people and I see the good in them, but it all comes from caring.”
Her eyes were misty in the end but no tears leaked out.
She gave him a tiny smile and he returned it.
“Was that a better response for you?”
Hi voice was gruff when he replied.
“Well, Miller, you’re definitely too good-hearted.”
They’d reached his hotel.
He opened the door and exited the car.
“Thanks for the ride, Miller. See you tomorrow.”
“Bright and early, sir!”
He groaned and waved as he watched her go before he went up to his room.
He took a well-needed shower and he was in pyjama pants and was putting on a t-shirt when his phone rang.
Miller was ringing him through the video-call app. He took the call and her face appeared.
She was smirking.
“I just wanted to show you how the phone app works.”
“Thanks. Now I know.”
She looked really amused.
“And now I know you’re a Doctor Who fan. You’”
Hardy rolled his eyes.
“A minute earlier and it’s not my T-shirt you’d have seen, Miller.”
Her eyes went wide, her face turned red, and she gaped at him.
“Bloody hell! Don’t say things like that, I’ll have nightmares!”
“See you tomorrow, Miller. Goodnight.”